Publish Date: March 2007
Caldecott Honor artist Brian Selznick has 284 pencil drawings and actual photos (an old train engine falling from an upper story to the street below, Harold Loyd in "Safety Lost", film stills) basing his story on facts. Automatons who could draw pictures, write poems, and sign the maker's name Maillardet, really existed, neglected in a museum. George Melies, 1861 magician turned film-maker, son of shomeker-magnate, built his own camera Kinetographe, and was rediscovered in 1926 working at his Gare Montparness railroad station toy kiosk. Fiction: orphan clock-winder 1931 lad Hugo steals to eat an repair a robot from his father's notebook, until he meets Melies' pretty god-daughter Isabelle accompanied by helpful film student Etienne. An unusual blend of graphic novel and history lesson results.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a magical story told through pictures as well as words. And I don’t just mean that there are pictures added in with the story, I mean the pictures mixed in actually tell parts of the story. Say Hugo is following somebody home and there are pictures of that happening, when the words pick up again they start where the picture left off, possibly at said person’s house.
Yes, I have seen the movie and honestly, I’d rather not compare the two. The movie is fantastic all by itself and the same goes for the book. You get a little more of what Hugo is thinking and feeling with the book which I appreciated. It was interesting to hear his thoughts and hopes and dreams.
I love that the story is part adventure, part mystery, part heart-warming, and part boy-learning-to-grow-up-without-a-family. It’s amazing how Selznick weaved all those elements into one beautiful story. Well, two actually, but you’ll have to read the book to know what I mean.
The Nutshell: Despite The Invention of Hugo Cabret’s enormous size, I finished it within a couple hours, so don’t let that scare you. The drawings are beautiful and the story is just as lovely. I don’t think one outshines the other, they both work together seamlessly to tell a magical story of a boy who gets to experience love, hope, and adventure.
Rating: Direct Hit